Understanding Master Valves

 In Valves

What is a master valve?
Master valves are automatic electric valve devices that attach to the connection between reticulation and a water supply point. They are specifically engineered to speak to a ‘master valve circuit’ on an irrigation controller – the computer that controls an automatic irrigation system.

If you’re confused by that – you’re not alone!

Let’s use an example to clarify. Imagine a suburban backyard reticulation system that has four sprinkler zones – front yard, back yard, lawn and vegetable garden.

Your irrigation controller is the little programming box usually located on an exterior wall of the property. It’s the ‘remote’ you use to turn the sprinklers on or off.

That remote is wired to a master valve circuit. The remote (irrigation controller) is therefore capable of closing the master valve, and the master valve shuts off the main water supply to every other valve in the backyard zones.

The master valve is like an override switch for your whole backyard retic system. Its purpose is to shut off water to the whole irrigation system if all of the zones valves are closed.

Why should I have one?
A master valve is designed to save water for both the world and your wallet by ensuring separate valve zones cannot leak. If you find any sprinklers in your reticulation system are leaking or will not close properly, the master valve ensures there’s no water running through the system at all from the mains when your retic is turned off. It can, therefore, help to minimise water wastage.

Going back to our example, say three sprinklers in the front yard wouldn’t close properly. Without a master valve, once you turn the irrigation off those open sprinklers would continue to leak. With a master valve, turning off the irrigation would shut off the main water supply to the entire system and therefore those sprinklers could not leak.

However, a master valve should be treated as an emergency feature, and not relied upon long-term. Under those circumstances, the best thing to do is have your reticulation system repaired because the master valve only stops leaking when the entire system is switched off. That’s where Retic Repair Man comes in.

How does a master valve work?
A typical electric solenoid valve converts electrical energy into mechanical energy. The solenoid coil on top of the valve passes an electrical current through it to create an electromagnetic field, which allows it to be operated remotely and autonomously. This removes the need to physically go outside and open or close a valve.

Where can I install a master valve?
A master valve can be installed before or after the backflow preventer or pressure regulator (if applicable). Repairs on a master valve will cause a minor overflow, so it should be installed in an area where that little spill won’t cause water damage. We can install master valves for you – Retic Repair Man is proficient in system upgrades and extensions.

Are there any disadvantages to using a master valve?
It’s more likely that homeowners won’t see leaks if they have a master valve installed because the master valve ensures no leakage. Especially if your reticulation is set to run at night, it’s highly unlikely a leak or failure to close will become apparent as your master valve will ensure nothing is leaking during the day. This is not a true disadvantage – more of a warning. Even with a master valve, it’s important to check for leaks regularly.

How can I find out more?
If you’re interested in upgrading your current reticulation system to include a master valve, reach out to Retic Repair Man. For the quickest response during business hours please phone Andrew directly on 0419 698 526, or email andrew@reticrepairman.com!

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